In the way you’d expect coming off of a World Series win, this year’s Cubs Convention has been light on “news,” and heavy on deep appreciation (the fans for the Cubs, and the Cubs for the fans).
Don’t get me wrong: I neither dislike this, nor am I pining for the days when Convention joy had to be drawn from the thinnest of sources. But I can’t deny that there’s always been a sick fascination with the frustrated fan questions, and also an obvious interest in significant news being announced at the Convention. We haven’t had much in the way of either of those things this year, but, again, when the World Series trophy is in the building, there’s not going to be a whole lot of frustration or bigger news.
Things wrap up today at CubsCon 2017.
- Perhaps the closest we came to news/rumor stuff in the executive panel was when Theo Epstein discussed Jake Arrieta’s impending free agency, saying that he does expect that the team will “take a stab” at signing Arrieta to a long-term deal, but that “years and dollars” can be a complicated thing. In other words, of course the Cubs would love to hang on to Arrieta for many more years, but the kind of contract he’s expected to want in order to forgo the free agency that he’s so close to achieving may be beyond the Cubs’ comfort level. My position on this hasn’t changed since it was a frequent discussion last year: the type of contract the Cubs should reasonably offer Arrieta is probably not going to be at the same level he’s going to reasonably expect now that he’s so close to free agency. Arrieta may understandably want to bet on himself, and then take a crack at free agency (if he’s fantastic in 2017 again, then he’d be coming off of three very good seasons, two of which may have been sublime – he’d get a monster contract at that point). We’ll see if serious rumors pop up about discussions – Epstein reiterated that they work to keep that stuff internal – but I’d tentatively expect us to know by Spring Training whether there will be continued discussions, or if it’s “have a great year, and then we’ll see what happens in free agency.”
- The Cubs are pushing for the 2020 All-Star Game at Wrigley Field, which would be after the renovations are complete, and exactly 30 years after their last All-Star Game. Speaking of those renovations, the new western gate is expected to be available in 2017, which will alleviate some ballpark congestion. New Wi-Fi and cell service around the park will not be available until 2018, however, and this blogger cries a little inside.
- Other news included the Cubs’ announcement that they are discontinuing print-at-home tickets to combat fraud (you’ll need the physical tickets, or the Ballpark app on your phone). StubHub will still be an option for the secondary market, though you won’t be able to print those tickets off at home anymore. You can see the full details and explanation here at Crain’s.
- I wondered if Joe Maddon was going to get it from any fans with respect to the World Series bullpen usage stuff, and, for the most part, he did not. It came up in a joke from a fan (“If Aroldis Chapman were here, would you ask him to sign autographs for an hour last night, then two hours tonight, and then three hours tomorrow?”), but it was mostly left alone. For his part, Maddon said what he’s said all along, and it was sufficiently non-revelatory that I feel comfortable saying essentially that folks are finally finished talking about it.
- From Maddon’s session, Luis caught a humorous moment:
— Luis M. (@lcm1986) January 14, 2017
- Otherwise, Maddon’s session was what you’d expect, and he even dropped a couple new phrases on us: he wants to see the Cubs “D-peat” in 2017 (i.e., be incredible on defense again), and FunBall (as suggested by a fan question, as Maddon was noting that baseball is supposed to be fun (he must be a Baseball is Fun fan)).
- Speaking of baseball and fun, Team Canada knows that the World Baseball Classic is supposed to be fun, apparently, because they’re reportedly going to feature Ryan Dempster and Eric Gagne pitching, and Russell Martin – the Blue Jays’ catcher – playing shortstop. Now if we can just get Team Dominican Republic to let Adrian Beltre play center field because what the hell.
- I know it’s extremely random, but it’s something I like, and so when I see it on sale on Amazon, I always want to alert people: the small (but very nice range of brightness) camping lantern is 72% off right now at Amazon, which is the lowest I’ve seen. To be clear, it’s just a lantern. It will not cure any diseases. But it’s just a really good (cheap but effective) one to have around the house.
- If you’re curious to check in on the Bears/NFL world at our sister site, see Luis’s Bullets this morning at The Ten-Yard Line.
- Get hyped: